Super Tuesdays normally happen once every four years in the lead up to the presidential election. But with politics on everyone's mind on a daily basis — in no small part thanks to the president's tweets — this time one has come two years early. Pundits are using the term again this year, but plenty are left wondering what Super Tuesday 2018 means given that there is no presidential race this year.
Essentially it's a day with a lot of primaries scheduled together. That's also the case in a presidential year, but the stakes are not quite so high in the midterms. That's because without the presidential nomination being fought over, there are no delegates. Often, who will get the Democratic or Republican nomination for president will be decided on Super Tuesday because so many delegates (the people who vote at the party conventions for the party's presidential nominee) are awarded.
But in a midterm race, the term Super Tuesday is used for other primary races. This Tuesday, eight states will go to the polls to decide who will be on the ticket for all sorts of races including governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, and more. Typically, both the Republicans and Democrats will advance with a winning candidate each, and they then face off in November.
The biggest state to watch is California. In part, that's because it's literally the biggest. There are 53 congressional districts, for example, some of which could be pivotal for the Democrats to win the majority in the House this November.
But the other reason the state is interesting to watch is that they have a "top-two" primary system. That means that there might not be a Republican or Democrat on the ballot for every race. And while in California, Democrats tend to do better, in some of the primaries for Congress, there are lots of Dems running. That has some worried that there could be races in which two Republicans advance to the November ballot and no Democrats because the votes are split among so many.
The state's long-serving Sen. Dianne Feinstein may face a Democrat on the ballot in November. She has a progressive running to her left, arguing that she hasn't been a strong enough voice against Trump and his far-right agenda. Feinstein is still the likely favorite, but she has changed some of her policy positions, including a move to oppose the death penalty thanks to her challenge from state Sen. Kevin de León. He's expected to come in second and advance to the November ballot.
You might not know the results for a few days, though, or even into next week. California has a large percentage of voters sending in their ballots through the mail — and they will be accepted if sent by Tuesday and received by Friday. Unless a vote is a landslide, it won't be called right away.
Another state to watch is Iowa. Republicans there advanced a controversial anti-abortion rights law that was signed by the Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has served in the office for just over a year. She was the lieutenant governor until her predecessor was tapped to be ambassador to China by President Trump.
Iowa could also be key for the Democrats' attempt to take over the House. Two of the state's four congressmen are considered vulnerable. One is in a toss-up district and the other just leans Republican. The race will be who faces off against the incumbents. It's likely that in both districts, a Democratic woman could be on the ballot in November.
There may not be a presidential nomination being decided this Super Tuesday, but there is still plenty to watch.